American Flags Through History

Learn about American Flags Through History

The American flag is one of the most recognizable flags in the world. With its trademark white and red stripes and 50 bold stars, it’s hard to imagine it looking any other way. However, the American flag wasn’t always the stars and stripes we know today. In fact, the American flag has gone through many changes – 26 to be exact – before it became the iconic symbol that it is today. Each of these changes continues to be an official flag of the United States of America.

The American Flag represents so much to so many people. The American flags through history have constantly evolved but remain one of the most recognizable flags in the world. With its trademark white and red stripes and 50 bold stars, it’s hard to imagine it looking any other way. However, the American Flag wasn’t always the “Stars and Stripes” as we know it today. In fact, the American flags through history have undergone many changes – 26 to be exact – before it became the iconic symbol that it is today.

Have you ever wondered about the meaning of the stars on the American flag?

So exactly how and why did the US Flag change so often? Each time a new territory was awarded statehood, the American Flag needed updating. Our original flag had 13 stars to designate each of the original thirteen colonies. Through time other areas became states and the flag was redesigned to accommodate their presence.

The most popular historic American flag may not even be a true historic American flag at all. The Betsy Ross flag , thought by many to be the first American Flag, is such only in spirit. The ringed, 13-star design made famous by Betsy was never adopted by America as an official flag. The first official thirteen star flag had a stacked, horizontal star layout similar (although less crowded) to that of the flag today. It also established the alternating red/white stripe pattern we know today, as well as the blue canton (or constellation) in the upper left hand corner.

The initial design (13 star flag) seems to have been based on the work of Francis Hopkinson, a member of congress and signatory to the Declaration of Independence. Mr. Hopkinson designed the flag for use on naval ships in 1777 and his overall design was widely adopted during the first decades of America’s independence. No true or statutory standard evolved until the formalization of the flag in 1818 when it was decided that a new star would be added for each new state, but the number of stripes should remain at 13.

As we have matured as a country our flag changes have slowed. While we have adopted a total of 26 different flags in our almost 250 year history, only six changes occurred within the last 100 years or so. These more recent updates began with the 45 Star American Flag in 1896 that acknowledged Utah’s admission to the country, and last updated to the 50 Star American Flag in 1960 to acknowledge Hawaii, it took almost 65 years to move from a 45 Star American Flag to our current 50 stars! That’s still a new flag about every ten years on average -- the 45 Star American flag in 1896 to the 50 star American Flag in 1960. Meanwhile, we have averaged exactly zero new flags for the last 50+ years! What’s next for in US flag history?? Many people believe that Puerto Rico will be adopted for statehood in the near future, so if that happens, time to get a new flag!

Products related to Historical American Flags

Showcase your Historic American Flag with pride. We have multiple styles of brackets and flagpoles to choose from to keep Old Glory flying proudly. Choose an eagle finial as the proper topper to your American flag.

Looking for a bigger statement? Consider getting a quote from one of our experts for an in-ground 20’ flagpole . They look fantastic in front of the house or workplace.

Some of the most popular historical variants of the US Flag are the 13 star flag in both the Betsy Ross design and the officially recognized version, or the 15 star and 15 stripe “Star Spangled Banner”. Any of the Civil War era flags are a popular option, as are more recently admitted state designations starting with the 45 Star American Flag. Or, if you want to acknowledge your state’s adoption to the country, fly the US flag that showcases when your addition occurred. For instance in Utah, you would fly the 45 Star American Flag, adopted in 1896, to acknowledge statehood.

Customers who are interested in American Flags through history were also interested in our custom flags. Gettysburg Flag Works can custom make your US Flag in historically accurate materials such as cotton - just ask us!

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